You’ve Been Tagged

Elizabeth of Elizabeth’s Cooking Experiments has tagged me for a fun little meme! It’s been ages since I’ve done a meme… but since I have some free time these days, why not?!

Seven Secrets and/or Weird Facts About Joelen

  1. I prefer eating in local neighborhood restaurants over chains & highly rated/chic restaurants. Why? There’s a whole different vibe dining in local establishments that I don’t get from chains or highly rated/chic restaurants. I find myself feeling much more comfortable and service is rarely an issue. Chains don’t offer a dining experience that’s unique enough for me… and the highly rated/chic restaurants I’ve been to just come off as pretentious and more expensive than it really should be.
  2. I’m dressed in pajamas more than I am in ‘everyday’ attire. I blame this on working from home and feeling comfortable as much as possible.
  3. I rarely cook beef at home. My husband doesn’t eat beef due to medical reasons so I’ve stopped buying it. However, it doesn’t stop me from enjoying beef every now and then when dining out!
  4. I’m a neat freak. Our home is always in a state of being ‘guest ready’ because we tend to have company over all the time at random times. It continues in my kitchen where everything is organized.
  5. I have a thing with lists… and lots of them. I have lists of everything and lists of lists. To make matters worse, if I scratch out what I write I have to get a whole new piece of paper and re-write it so it looks clean – and I don’t do pencils. (Yeah, even on paper I’m a neat freak!)
  6. I can cook pretty much anything in my wok… and I have! For the longest time, I had only a large wok and my dutch oven to cook in. If I could only have one piece of cookware to use, it would most definitely be my wok.
  7. I don’t like talking on my cellphone. I’d much rather communicate electronically via text or email.

So what secrets or weird facts do you have about yourself? I’m not sure who to tag but if you’d like to participate, please do so!

The Sweet 100: How Sweet is YOUR Sweet Tooth?

How the Sweet 100 Works:

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.

… From the looks of my results, I sure have eaten quite a bit of sweets! I’ve eaten/tasted 84 out of the 100 sweets below

1. Red Velvet Cake
2. Princess Torte
3. Whoopie Pie
4. Apple Pie either topped or baked with sharp cheddar
5. Beignet
6. Baklava
7. Black and White Cookie
8. Seven Layer Bar (also known as the Magic Bar or Hello Dolly bars)
9. Fried Fruit pie (sometimes called hand pies)
10. Kringle
11. Just-fried (still hot) doughnut
12. Scone with clotted cream
13. Betty, Grunt, Slump, Buckle or Pandowdy
14. Halvah
15. Macarons
16. Banana Pudding with nilla wafers
17. Bubble tea (with tapioca “pearls”)
18. Dixie Cup
19. Rice Krispie treats
20. Alfajores
21. Blondies
22. Croquembouche
23. Girl Scout cookies
24. Moon cake
25. Candy Apple
26. Baked Alaska
27. Brooklyn Egg Cream
28. Nanaimo bar
29. Baba au rhum
30. King Cake
31. Sachertorte
32. Pavolva
33. Tres Leches Cake
34. Trifle
35. Shoofly Pie
36. Key Lime Pie (made with real key lime)
37. Panna Cotta
38. New York Cheesecake
39. Napoleon/mille-fueille
40. Russian Tea Cake/Mexican Wedding Cake
41. Anzac Biscuits
42. Pizzelle
43. Kolache
44. Buckeyes
45. Malasadas
46. Moon Pie
47. Dutch Baby
48. Boston Cream Pie
49. Homemade chocolate chip cookies
50. Pralines
51. Gooey butter cake
52. Rusks
53. Daifuku
54. Green tea cake or cookies
55. Cupcakes from a cupcake shop
56. Creme Brulee
57. Some sort of deep fried fair food (twinkie, candy bar, cupcake)
58. Yellow cake with chocolate frosting
59. Jelly Roll
60. Pop Tarts
61. Charlotte Russe
62. An “upside down” dessert (Pineapple upside down cake or Tarte Tatin)
63. Hummingbird Cake
64. Jell-O from a mold
65. Black forest cake
66. Mock Apple Pie (Ritz Cracker Pie)
67. Kulfi
68. Linzer torte
69. Churro
70. Stollen
71. Angel Food Cake
72. Mincemeat pie
73. Concha
74. Opera Cake
75. Sfogliatelle / Lobster tail
76. Pain au chocolat
77. A piece of Gingerbread House
78. Cassata
79. Cannoli
80. Rainbow cookies
81. Religieuse
82. Petits fours
83. Chocolate Souffle
84. Bienenstich (Bee Sting Cake)
85. Rugelach
86. Hamenstashen
87. Homemade marshmallows
88. Rigo Janci
89. Pie or cake made with candy bar flavors (Snickers pie, Reeses pie, etc)
90. Divinity
91. Coke or Cola cake
92. Gateau Basque
93. S’mores
94. Figgy Pudding
95. Bananas foster or other flaming dessert
96. Joe Froggers
97. Sables
98. Millionaire’s Shortbread
99. Animal crackers
100. Basbousa

The Vegetarian’s 100

Maggie of Dog Hill Kitchen and Maybelle’s Mom of Feeding Maybelle have thought about and created their Vegetarian take on the Omnivore’s 100 list! Check out their sites to see their lists and leave a comment there. General rules:

bold = have eaten
unhighlighted = haven’t eaten
crossed out = won’t ever eat (I’d try everything on this list!)

If you do do this, please post a comment here at, linking to Maybelle’s Mom. Click on the (?) if you are curious what the heck the item is… Maybelle’s Mom did a lot of work getting all of those links!

My score: 60/100, meaning I’ve had 60 out of the following 100 items:

1. Edamame (?)
2. Cha Soba (?)
3. Arame (?)
4. Earth Balance Buttercream
5. “Homemade” sprouts
6. Green Bamboo Rice (?)
7. Absinthe
8. Eat at a raw restaurant
9. Fresh (real) wasabi
10. Deep fried pickle
11. Fiddleheads (?)
12. Garlic stuffed olives
13. Smen (?)
14. Goji Berries (?)
15. Shiso or Perilla (?)
16. Amaranth (?)
17. Pomegranate molasses (?)
18. Water convulvulus (Water Spinach) (?)
19. Pea eggplant, Thai eggplant, green eggplant, Japanese eggplant, Indian eggplant, Sicilian eggplant…
20. A Zen Buddhist Vegan Meal (?)
21. Kohya Dofu (?)
22. Wild Asparagus (?)
23. Elderberry (?)
24. Candlenuts (kemiri) (?)
25. Salsify (?)
26. Nutritional Yeast (?)
27. Pandan (?)
28. Roman cauliflower (?)
29. Anything with acorn flour (?)
30. Poi (?)
31. Chaya (tree spinach) (?)
32. Pitahaya (dragon fruit) (?)
33. Asafoetida (?)
34. Fried plantains
35. Basil seeds (?)
36. Cardoon (?)
37. Durian (?)
38. Ground Cherry or cape gooseberry (?)
39. Fresh waterchestnut (?)
40. Cashewnut cheese
41. Nettles (?)
42. Fake duck from a can, tofurky, or any prepared vegetarian product to resemble meat
43. Kimchi
44. Masala Dosa (?)
45. Lotus Seed (?)
46. Matcha (?)
47. Loubie Bzeit (?)
48. Quince (?)
49. Blue Potatoes
50. Injera (?)
51. Nasturtium (?)
52. Turkish Delight or Lokum (?)
53. Spruce tips (?)
54. Breadfruit (?)
55. Mangosteen (?)
56. Swede or Rutabaga
57. Garlic Scapes (?)
58. Lavash (?)
59. Candied Angelica (?)
60. Rambutan (?)
61. Sambal (?)
62. Bhutanes Red Rice (?)
63. Candy-cane or Chioggia beets (?)
64. Mango
65. Ras el Hanout (?)
66. Vegan marshmallow (?)
67. Umeboshi (?)
68. Red Currants (?)
69. Puy or French lentils (?)
70. Millet (?)
71. Fresh Bamboo shoot (?)
72. Jerusalem artichoke (?)
73. Wild strawberry (?)
74. Jambool (?)
75. Po cha or Yak butter Tea (?)
76. Adzuki beans (?)
77. Shirataki (?)
78. Manioc, yuca, cassava (?)
79. Quinoa (?)
80. Ramps (?)
81. Chufa (?)
82. Purslane (?)
83. Curry Leaves (Kadipatta) (?)
84. Sorrel (?)
85. Sumac (?)
86. Vegan cupcake
87. Montreal bagel (?)
88. Peri-peri (?)
89. Syllabub (?)
90. Chartreuse (?)
91. Kamut berries (?)
92. Kalamansi Lime (?)
93. Aloe (?)
94. Morels (?)
95. Raw “bread”
96. Dandelion wine
97. Rosti (?)
98. Loomi (?)
99. Stinky tofu (?)
100. Something grown by you~

40 – never tried (yet!)
60 – tried & tasted

My Omnivore 100…

What’s your Omnivore 100 score? If you’d like, find out your Omnivore 100 score with this list of food items. How the Omnivore’s 100 works:

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.

I did mine a little differently but it’s fun nonetheless. I’ve bolded the items I’ve eaten, bolded in blue things I have yet to eat/try and bolded green I refused to even taste! My Omnivore 100 score is 82/100 (which means I’ve eaten 82 of the 100 items listed here).

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses – not sure how I could even try this stinky cheese!
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV (alcohol by volume)
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare/rabbit
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa – harissa yes, but not with rose petals
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

My Results:
82 food items I have already tried/tasted…
10 food items I would like to/have yet to try…
8 food items I refuse to try…

How did you do??

TAG you’re IT!

And for your weekend blog-reading pleasure… a little game of TAG! My friend Karen of Loves To Eat Weblog “tagged” me to share a few snippets of myself. Here are the Tagging Rules:

Each player answers the questions about themselves. At the end of the post, the player then tags 5 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read your blog. Let the person who tagged you know when you’ve posted your answer.

What was I doing ten years ago?
I was just finishing up my junior year in college and working as a manager for a photo service at a large theme park. (You know those kiosks that took/sold your picture while you ride those rollercoasters and thrill rides? Yah, that was me making sure folks were showing your picture and getting you to buy a mug, photo frame or keychain – lol)

What are five (non-work) things on my to-do list for today?
Since the day is almost over, tomorrow I have:
1. Dr appt.
2. grocery shop
3. maybe get some new eyewear/glasses
4. cook for a dinner I’m hosting
5. eat, drink & be merry with friends!

Five snacks I enjoy:
1. Nachoes
2. Ice cream

3. Egg rolls
4. Chocolate chip cookies
5. Cheese & crackers

Things I would do if I were a billionaire:
1. lie on a beach
2. enjoy a fruity cocktail
3. lie on a different beach
4. enjoy another fruity cocktail
5. repeat over and over and over

Places I’ve lived:
1. Canada
2. Chicago suburbs
3. Chicago city

Jobs I’ve had:
1. Barista @ Starbucks, Borders bookstore, independent coffee bar
2. Retail department manager @ Polo Ralph Lauren, Brooks Brothers
3. House manager @ community for developmentally challenged adults
4. Human Resources @ 2 large employee benefit consulting firms

I will be tagging:
1. Elizabeth of Elizabeth’s Cooking Experiments
2. Lynsey of Lynsey Lou’s Place
3. Rachel of Culinary Kicks
4. Erika of Bean’s Bistro

I’ve Made Someone’s Day!

As I blog about my “culinary adventures” whether they are the meals at home or events I host with my group, What’s Cookin Chicago, I sometimes wonder if sharing my culinary experiences are even interesting enough for readers or if they just get suspended out in cyber blogspace. But the following award has motivated me to keep doing what I’m doing.

A big Thank You! goes out to the following bloggers who recognized me for the “You Made My Day” Award:

Lauren, who does a superb job with her blog, Lauren’s Kitchen
Erin, who has a tasty blog capturing sweet & savory in Dinner & Dessert
Erin, a fellow Chicagoan who in her blog, highlights Cooking & Eating in the Windy City

So to pass on the torch, I’d like to pass on this award with fellow bloggers…

Kate of Paved With Good Intentions – Kate is a frequent reader of my blog and I truly enjoy her comments to my entries. You continually make my day Kate, so thank you! PS… we must meet up when I’m in San Diego later this fall!

Shawnda of Confections of a Foodie Bride – Shawnda has a blog I admire for many reasons… her amazing culinary skills, awesome photography and just overall appreciation for food. Thank you Shawnda for providing a consistent and well done food blog!

JMama of Bella Lately – JMama (her nickname) is someone who I wish I would have met before she moved out to the east coast. She previously lived here in Chicago and is an avid foodie like me. I’ve been “seeing” her more online and that always makes my day. 🙂

Midweek Meme…

Here’s a midweek tidbit.. a little meme, thanks to Danielle from Make No Little Meals. Thanks Danielle for tagging me! Here are my responses… and read on to see who I’ve tagged next:

What were you doing 10 years ago?
I was a fulltime college student, working full time as a retail supervisor for Brooks Brothers.

What were you doing 1 year ago?
Let’s see, last year I was just getting settled into my blog and contemplating starting my foodie social group, What’s Cookin’ Chicago.

Five snacks you enjoy
1–Artisnal cheeses, especially Humboldt Fog goat cheese
2–Water & butter crackers
3–Sopressata & salame
4–Fresh fruit
5–Lindt & Vosges chocolate

5 Things I would do if I was a millionaire
1–Go to culinary school
2–Invest in a storefront/commercial & professional kitchen space
3–Travel to various food-centric cities to explore
4–Start my own business focused on food & entertaining
5–Upgrade my kitchen

5 Bad Habits
1–I’m a clean/neat freak
2–I’m anal & stubborn about how things are done (especially in my kitchen/home)
3–I’m too detailed & organized to a fault.
4–I’m very social & a planner to a fault.
5–I can be a control freak.

5 things you would never wear again
1–Perm… too many bad memories!
2–Tapered jeans, aka “ankle chokers”
3–Payless shoes
4–Blush (I prefer bronzer)
5–Neon anything

5 Favourite (kitchen) Toys
1–Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer
2–Microwaveable Rice Cooker
3–Stoneware Bar Pans
4–Le Creuset dutch oven

Here are some fellow food bloggers I’ve chosen to tag…
Anne of Anne’s Food
Kim of The Yummy Mummy
Lynn of Cookie Baker Lynn
Kate of Kate F, Girl Reporter
Kelly of Kelly the Culinarian

Nice Matters!

A great foodie and personal friend of mine, Elly of Elly Says Opa!, has nominated for a Nice Matters Award. It was such a surprise and honor to have been thought of — Thank you Elly!

Please check out Elly’s blog for her amazing recipes, delicious photos and witty commentaries. She is quite an inspiration as she was one friend that encouraged me to begin blogging about my love of food. Elly paved the way for a large blogging community withing a special network of women and she’s also motivated me to read more books – a news years resolution I made for myself in 2008. (She has great taste in food related books too so it’s easy for me to find a book to read!) So to spread the warm fuzzy feeling I received in being nominated, I would like to nominate the following bloggers for the Nice Matters Award:

Amber of Amber’s Delectable Delights ~ Amber is a personal friend of mine who welcomed me into her home as if we were long time friends when we met for the first time! Whenever I’m stumped on menu planning, she has always come through with great suggestions. She’s a great person inside and out and I’m glad to have her as a friend. Do check out her blog because she is an amazing cook and baker… and the pictures of her dishes don’t do any justice in how they taste! Every recipe I’ve made from her blog came out wonderfully…

Blake of Blake Makes ~ I just learned of Blake’s blog this evening and I think his concept is definitely nice, if not beyond! He has a wonderful blog where he creates various foodstuff and sends it out to fellow food bloggers for feedback… all for free! It’s his way of expanding his network and reaching out to foodies who can provide constructive criticism to help perfect his products. Anyone who gives out free food in my book is definite nice!

Peabody of Culinary Concoctions of Peabody ~ Peabody is one person I admire. Aside from her amazing baking skills, she has a very personable vibe that resonates through her blog. Although I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting her, I have no doubt in my mind that she would be as pleasant in person as she comes across when she writes about her latest sweet creation. It’s also worth noting that when she’s not baking in her kitchen, she’s teaching others how to cook in their own homes… using the skills she’s learned when she studied in culinary/pastry school. If that isn’t a nice thing to do – for people and for a living – I don’t know what is!

TAG! Name yourself!

I’ve been TAGGED! I was “tagged” by Jen of Jennyfer’s Culinary Creations. As a result, I must list facts or tidbits about myself and then tag other people. However, I’m throwing in a twist I found on other food bloggers…. and you have to post these rules before you give the facts.

— Players, you must list one fact, word or tidbit that is somehow relevant to your life for each letter of your first or middle name.
— When you are tagged you need to write your own blog-post containing your own first or middle name game facts, word or tidbit.
— At the end of your blog-post, you need to choose one person for each letter of your name to tag. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.
— So if I’ve tagged YOU, please join in on the fun!

My name…. JOELEN:

J ~ Jovial approach to life. I love sharing the little things in life that make me happy with hopes to make other people smile (which is usually food related!)

O ~ Opportunities. With every day, I find opportunities to better myself in some way, shape or form. Either in my work, relationships, personal time, I like taking opportunities that challenge me to be a better person in the end.

E ~ Energetic. When it comes to food related things, I feel completely energized and full of life. However, I wish I could be as energetic when it comes to doing the daily chores of cleaning, laundry, etc.

L ~ Laugh. You can be sure that you will hear be laugh at least once with each time we meet. It’s a way for me to relieve stress, relax and enjoy the company of others.

E ~ Entice. I hope to continue to improve my photo taking skills so my blog can further entice my readers. Heck, I hope my Chicago cooking group continues to grow and I’ll be able to entice more Chicagoans to my group’s events in the coming months!

N ~ No beef. My husband and I recently decided to cut beef out of our diet. We’re focusing on more fruits and vegetables along with lean protein. So far so good!

Here’s who I’m tagging!

Food, Glorious Food!
Welcome to My Kitchen Treats
Thyme for Food
Eat My Words
What Smells So Good?
In My Element

Tag! You’re IT!

Thanks to some of my fellow cooking divas: Cara, Jessica, Michelle & Renea! I’ve been “tagged” and as a result, I’m sharing a little insight into my food-loving world.

OK, tag! I’ve tagged the following cooking divas:
Brianna, Julia, Melissa, Gillian, Sarah, Tina, Meghan
If I “tagged” your blog, here’s how to play!…

Each player starts with seven random facts or habits about himself or herself.

A tagged player then writes a blog entry with the seven things, as well as these rules.

Then the player tags seven others and lists their names on his or her blog.

Remember to leave a comment for your newly tagged players, letting them know they have been tagged and to read your blog!

7 random facts about me:

1. My full first & middle names are a combination of all the female members of my husband’s immediate & extended family. (I even had to show identification when we first started dating since he and his family didn’t believe it!)

2. When I was younger, I was big on singing and playing musical instruments – piano, organ, violin & viola.

3. My sister is 6 years younger than me, but when we are together, people mistake me for the younger one by both looks and overall personality.

4. I failed drivers ed in high school and had to retake during the summer. (The humilation!) When I finally took my drivers ed test, I had to drive a big old Fleetwood Cadillac (and I’m 5 ft tall – a petite gal!)

5. I love trying out unusual and ethnic foods – the more adventurous, the more excited I am to try it!

6. I’m a neat freak and occassional germ-o-phobe. Maybe that’s why I’m super sensitive and allergic to all sorts of things!

7. I love Chicago and would always want to live either in the city or very close by.